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Are There Wild Cats in Maryland? Facts, Pictures & FAQ

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on April 19, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


Are There Wild Cats in Maryland? Facts, Pictures & FAQ

The small state of Maryland only covers almost 12,500 square miles. However, within its borders, there is a mix of wild animals to be seen. White-tailed deer are found in most places outside major cities. An array of birds can also be easily spotted, from hummingbirds to birds of prey. In the western part of Maryland, there is even a black bear population1!

But what about wildcats? Surely a state that has deer and bears would have wildcats, right? Yes, Maryland is home to a wildcat, but only one type of wildcat: the bobcat.


What Is a Bobcat?

The bobcat (Lynx rufus) falls under the “big cat” category, although it only weighs between 20–30 pounds, which is about twice the size of the average housecat. These secretive and solitary felines are often recognized for having a bobbed tail, fur that flares out on the cheeks, and a light spotted pattern on their body. The bobcat’s color ranges from grayish to brownish-red. They usually have white bellies.

Image Credit: Chandler Cruttenden, Unsplash

Bobcat Habitats in Maryland

Bobcats are found throughout North America. But since they are solitary, they tend to stick to heavily wooded areas, avoiding cities and other busy places. Bobcats have primarily been spotted in the western counties of Allegany, Garrett, Frederick, and Washington in Maryland. Those counties have more wooded and rural areas and a lower human population when compared to other central countries of Maryland.

How Many Bobcats Are in Maryland?

While scientists and researchers believe there are roughly 1.4 million, there is no exact count for bobcats in Maryland. Why? Spotting a bobcat is rare. That, combined with the fact that they are nocturnal and solitary, makes for a lucky experience should a Marylander see one. Fortunately, due to efforts to regenerate forests, it is believed that the bobcat population is increasing. Maybe in a few years, sighting one will not be so rare.

The Bobcat: Friend or Foe?

While the bobcat looks like an oversized domestic cat, people deem bobcats to be a pest. Since a bobcat is a carnivore, it will hunt smaller animals for food. Unfortunately, a bobcat will not ignore easily caught prey, like pets or livestock, for a meal. This is a problem if you own chickens, goats, sheep, cats, or small dogs. A bobcat may also leave behind the carcass of an animal, causing a smell and attracting other pests.

However, at the time this article was written, bobcat hunting is closed for 2022–2023, meaning people are not permitted to hunt bobcats for any reason in the state of Maryland. Hunting regulations and restrictions change year to year and from state to state.

Image Credit: Lori Ayre, Unsplash

What Should You Do If a Bobcat Approaches?

If you get the chance to see a bobcat, consider yourself lucky! However, always be respectful of the bobcat. Never attempt to approach them or touch them. Do not try to feed them, either. The best thing to do is back away slowly while watching them. Avoid running away since this can trigger them to attack. Bobcats are wild animals and need to be treated as such. Even though they are only 20–30 pounds, they have sharp teeth and claws.

If you think the bobcat is getting closer to you, make a lot of noise (yell, clap your hands, blow a whistle, bang something, etc.) and throw water at it if you have any. This will scare the bobcat and it will most likely begin to retreat.

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Final Thoughts

While seeing a bobcat is a rare incident, if you are in the western counties of Maryland, you could very well see one! If you do spot one, report the spotting to the local park service or forestry department. People who work in that industry would love to keep tabs on the bobcat population to see if it is increasing or decreasing.

Featured Image Credit: alex-burr, Pexels

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